U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Denver) speaks in support of the Export-Import Bank at a news conference in Denver.

Tea Party Republicans are jeopardizing an important economic tool, the Export-Import Bank, says U.S. Rep. Diana Degette, D-Denver.

The bank helps U.S. companies expand overseas, Degette said at a press conference Tuesday. Congress must reauthorize the bank by Sept. 30. So far, 201 Democratic House members have signed on to legislation reauthorizing the bank, but no Republican House members have joined them. 

"A lot of us are really mystified why this is happening because this is so important in our local communities for small businesses who create jobs this way," DeGette says.

Coolerado Corporation, a Denver-based manufacturer, employs about 50 people. CEO Tom Teynor says about half of its product is exported, and he says the Export-Import Bank has allowed him to take more risks on overseas sales.

"The Export-Import Bank is very valuable," Teynor says. "Without it, I’m quite confident a majority of our sales would have taken place domestically and our growth would have been stunted."

Critics call the bank an example of corporate welfare. But Degette says 89 percent of the companies that use the bank are small businesses, and those companies pay a fee that covers the costs of the program.